Oblivion (sequel to Lycopolis) released

by Ali Luke on January 11, 2016

This has been four years in the making, so let’s get to it:

Oblivion, the second book in the Lycopolis trilogy, is now available. Hurrah!

Buy Oblivion from Amazon.com 

Buy Oblivion from Amazon.co.uk

It’s currently only out as a Kindle ebook, but I’ll be creating versions for other e-stores soon, and hope to make a paperback version available as well.

Oblivion begins about six weeks after the events of Lycopolis. Here’s the blurb:

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In the English countryside, Seth’s settling into his new house – a striking contrast with his home in London. Over in Swindon, Mark and Hannah are coming to terms with family upheaval. In Oxford, Kay and Brandon are trying to focus on their studies – yet the demon world is becoming a hard-to-ignore reality.

Seth’s new house harbours an old secret, one that’s set to rock Mark and Hannah’s already shaky marriage … despite their determination to have nothing more to do with him.

An empty picture frame, a dark snowy night, and the gift of a thousand pounds open up a dangerous path for fresh temptation and ancient evil to combine.

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If you follow my blog Aliventures too, you’ll probably know the reasons for the four year wait: my two young children, Kitty (who will turn three in March) and Nick (who was one on Christmas Eve). They are a delight, but a time-consuming one!

My novel writing is becoming ever more efficient, however, and I have no plans for more pregnancies and babies … so I hope to have the third and final volume of the trilogy completed and published by the end of 2017.

To make sure you hear about it as soon as it’s ready, join the email list by popping your name and address in below. (I would never spam you or sell your email address … you’ll only hear Lycopolis-related news from me).

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Lycopolis: The Game Within the Story

by Ali Luke on October 31, 2012

One of the key challenges in writing Lycopolis was how to represent the game world within the novel.

The game isn’t just a plot device: it’s also a way in which I explore the nature of storytelling and imagination. I wanted to convey something of the feeling of taking part in a roleplaying game, and I also wanted the game sections to feel at least somewhat “real” – as though the in-game characters had lives of their own too.

Before I get into how I wrote the in-game sections and why, I’ll try to clear up one issue that LycoRogue (and probably other readers) had on the game mechanics:

The main issue I have is that the character Seth is the world creator and apparently the only storyteller of the game. How can he be everywhere at once and available whenever people want to be on? How does the game progress a story without him? How was Kay able to do an activity in-game without him? How would it be programmed in?

Seth, being Seth, is pretty controlling of the story. Anything really major that happens is planned by him (quite probably with help from Kay and others – that’s why in the opening scene of Lycopolis, he’s trying to pressure Kay into her help with the demon-summoning roleplay). But the more peripheral aspects of the story are player-led; Tristram’s interaction with his squire, Benedict, for instance, doesn’t need Seth’s involvement.

Writing the In-Game Parts of Lycopolis

The main difficulty I had is that the game is entirely text-based. (For the geeks out there, it’s a MUD, with a heavy focus on roleplay rather than hack-and-slash.)

I was really keen on this, because I don’t think graphical roleplaying games have anything like the same immersive power … but it caused a lot of initial confusion with my workshop group, most of whom weren’t gamers or internetty types, and assumed that “game” = “graphical”.

I didn’t want to relay the game story like a MUD log file – line after line of text, transcribed as it would actually take place – because I know from my own gaming days that these are a lot more fun to take part in, in real time, than to read afterwards.

So I went for a straightforward narrative style, telling the in-game story just as I tell the regular story, from a third-person limited pespective. This is from the first chapter of Lycopolis:

“I have deep misgivings about this.” Sir Tristram strode over to where Lord Cyrric stood, in the doorway leading down to the Temple of Shadows.

“I don’t care.” Cyrric leant towards him, the city’s insignia glinting from the medal around his neck. “All I care about, Tristram, is your loyalty.”

There were footsteps on the road, slowing, then halting. A lantern pierced the gloom, illuminating a pale face and blonde hair. “Lord Cyrric. Sir Tristram.”

Tristram frowned. “Miss Heidi. Are you sure you wish to be here?”

“Of course.” She glanced at Lord Cyrric, and Tristram saw her wait for his nod before continuing. “I will not be participating, merely observing.”

She should not see such things. No-one should.

There were louder footsteps now, accompanied by a jangling of metal, then a whooping battle-cry. Matilda. She came over, dragging a chained slave girl no older than Tristram’s squire.

“Stay and join us,” Cyrric said, to Matilda.

Tristram hoped she’d refuse. Matilda was a law unto herself – along with the sprawl of streets that she ruled over. She shrugged. “Why not?”

The parts I’ve put in bold are ones that are explicitly from Tristram’s viewpoint. The other players wouldn’t necessarily have any idea of what he’s thinking (though it does influence how he behaves – so Kay needs to know). I realise this may well be confusing to readers who are expecting the game to be more of a log of events, rather than the interpretation of the gameplay through a player’s eyes.

The line in bold italics indicates that the scene is through Tristram’s perspective (and thus Kay’s).

The line in bold underlined italics is Tristram’s (Kay’s) observation – it’s a comparison that others could easily have made, but probably wouldn’t.

I did this deliberately. (Well, mostly. It’s always hard to be sure after the fact how much was deliberate and how much just happened to get written that way…) The in-game scenes don’t just show the action, they show what a character’s player is adding to this in their own imagination (e.g. Tristram’s hope that Matilda will refuse Cyrric’s invitation).

There are other ways I could written the in-game scenes, of course. Very early on in the drafting, I tried merging in-game and out-of-game (so that you saw people’s thoughts as they played) – it quickly became obvious that this wasn’t going to work too well.

I could have written the game narrative from an omniscient, rather than a limited third-person, perspective – and while that might have resolved some of the objections that readers have had, it would have given the book a different flavour.

If you’ve read Lycopolis, I’d love to hear what you thought about the in-game scenes. Did they work for you? Were you distracted by trying to work out what the stories equated to in terms of what each player was typing, or did that not bother you?

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Lycopolis Virtual Book Tour – Post Round-Up

by Ali Luke on May 30, 2012

Quick annoucement: Lycopolis is now available in ebook AND paperback from both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

During April and May, I went on a virtual book tour … lots of fun, and no travelling involved! I “stopped” at a bunch of different blogs to share my tips on different aspects of writing, blogging, and self-publishing.

The posts are:

Tues 24th April: The Creative Penn
Six Great Reasons to Write Your Novel

Tues 24th April: Book Baby
How to Plan Your Non-Fiction Book to Set Yourself Up for Success

Fri 27th April: Book Baby
How to Plan Your Novel to Set Yourself Up for Success

Fri 27th April: Steff Metal
Five Epic Reasons to Be Your Own Boss

Mon 30th April: Men with Pens
4 Simple Ways to Create a Well-Written Ebook

Mon 30th April: Literascribe
Why Every Self-Publishing Author Needs an Editor

Mon 30th April: Cat’s Eye Writer
Eight Powerful Ways to Build a Loyal Readership for Your Blog

Tues 1st May: Write to Done
It’s Time to Start Your Novel: Here’s Why

Fri 4th May: Wordplay
How to Get Feedback on Your Writing (& Sort the Good from the Bad)

Mon 7th May: Keys to Writing
An Interview with Ali Luke, Part One

Tues 8th May: Lateral Action
Seven Powerful Ways to Gain More Confidence in Your Creative Work

Tues 8th May: Digital Book Launch
Seven Great Reasons to Self-Publish Your Book

Fri 11th May: Time Management Ninja
Why Managing Your Time Makes You More Creative

Mon 14th May: Keys to Writing
An Interview with Ali Luke, Part Two

Tues 15th May: Connection Revolution
Write From the Heart and Find Your Voice

Weds 16th May: Day-Timer
Stress-Free Writing: Finish Essays & Projects Before Your Deadline

Thurs 17th May: Cheryl Reif Writes
How a Virtual Book Tour Can Help You Publicize Your Book

Fri 18th May: Creativity Ninja
Ten Ways to Ensure No-One Will Ever Read Your Novel

Mon 21st May: The Lyon’s Tale
Why Editing Matters – and How to Stay Motivated to Do It Well

 

Huge thanks to all my wonderful hosts. Every blog listed here is well worth checking out! And if you’re looking for help with publishing or marketing your own book, take a look at Book Baby for self-publishing services and the Author Marketing Club for free Book Marketing Tips and Resources for Authors.

If you’ve not got your copy of Lycopolis yet, it’s available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both paperback and ebook formats:

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Lycopolis Review and Interview on Underground Book Reviews

March 13, 2012

The lovely AB from Underground Book Reviews wrote a great review of Lycopolis, saying: Ali writes clearly and concisely, without letting too much prose get in the way of her plot. There isn’t a slow spot in Lycoplis: it starts with action and ends with action. She gets into her characters’ heads and brings out […]

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Writing Lycopolis: Eight Questions Answered

January 6, 2012

Many thanks to Jacqui for these thoughtful questions – and for permission to use them as a blog post. SPOILER ALERT: Although there are no major plot spoilers below, you may prefer not to read on if you’ve not yet read Lycopolis. You can buy Lycopolis for the Kindle from Amazon.com ($2.99) or Amazon.co.uk (£1.97). […]

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Lycopolis Now Available to Buy! (ebook format)

November 17, 2011

It’s taken over three years of writing, rewriting and editing … but it all feels very much worth it today. Lycopolis is ready for you to buy! It’s currently available for the Kindle (or any devices with a Kindle reading app – you can download one for your computer, phone or tablet computer from Amazon). I’m working […]

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Mark: October

October 27, 2011

This is the third of three short stories set prior to the first Lycopolis novel: Robert: May Hannah: July Mark: October © Ali Luke, 2011 – Do not reproduce in any form without permission .. Mark put his head round the living room door. The kids were engrossed in cartoons; Hannah was ironing. He was […]

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Hannah: July

October 27, 2011

This is the second of three short stories set prior to the first Lycopolis novel: Robert: May Hannah: July Mark: October © Ali Luke, 2011 – Do not reproduce in any form without permission .. It took Hannah an hour to get the kids settled into bed. She had another week of semi-freedom, and then […]

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Robert: May

October 27, 2011

This is the first of three short stories set prior to the first Lycopolis novel: Robert: May Hannah: July Mark: October © Ali Luke, 2011 – Do not reproduce in any form without permission .. Robert sat in his room and stared at the Lycopolis home page, cursor hovering over the “join now” button. There […]

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